and the
Citizens Economic Research Foundation

Barbara's Column

In which direction shall Obama lead us?
by Barbara Anderson

The Salem News
Friday, January 23, 2009

"An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere, while the pessimist sees only the red light ... But the truly wise are color blind."

Albert Schweitzer

Though I didn't vote for Barack Obama, and am too politically cynical to get caught up in the national euphoria, I still found myself checking to see where the moon, Jupiter and Mars will be astrologically situated on Inauguration Day. If this really is the dawning of a new age, I want to notice when it happens.

I now understand why my son said he voted for Barack Obama because "he is calm and mature."

That seemed insufficient to me at the time, and still does when I think about it; but I realize that I am counting on these same qualities to get us through extraordinarily difficult times.

Here is my green-lit Obama presidency:

Our new president isn't really a liberal, but a moderate who let liberals see what they wanted to see; or, he is a liberal now, but smart enough to figure out what doesn't work in the real world.

People compare him to Abraham Lincoln, FDR or JFK; but he will most resemble Richard Nixon in China, a president who can open doors that leaders of his political persuasion weren't expected to knock on.

He will repeat the 1992 achievement of Independent presidential candidate Ross Perot explaining the need to address the national debt before it destroys the American dream.

We have no right to expect miracles, but by the end of President Obama's term, I would optimistically hope to see the United States recovering from a recession/depression with lessons learned, both politically and personally, about living beyond our means.

This will require that bailouts end now; that instead of debating which entity is deserving, we simply admit that we don't have the money to bail out anything, that our national debt is already too great; and a refusal to extend unemployment benefits beyond a year, so that Americans will take those jobs that some businesses say they can't fill without illegal immigrants.

I optimistically hope that by the end of the Obama administration, the country will be starting to pay down the national debt with a resolution never to let things get so out of hand again; and will have a solid plan to address the major "entitlements" of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid before they bankrupt the nation.

This will set a good example for the smaller government entities, which must address public employee pensions and other benefits before they bankrupt states, cities and towns.

With the Obamas sensibly sending their daughters to private instead of public schools in Washington, I optimistically expect that they will fight for more choice for parents in education, so that citizens can be well-educated enough to handle the challenges of a democracy.

I hope President Obama can quit smoking, inspiring all of us to live healthier lives as we support him in bringing transparency and portability to our health insurance system, keeping it private and innovative.

International events can unravel outside our control. But after 9/11, President Bush at least kept us safe from terrorists; and I optimistically expect that President Obama will too.

It's likely that the new administration will realize that, because of our national debt, we have no money for "exporting democracy." Sorry, world, but you're on your own until we get our fiscal house in order.

I optimistically expect, however, that we can keep our commitments to support the existing democracies that could come under attack, like Israel and Taiwan.

We will see a clearly-defined immigration policy that recognizes we can't take in everyone who wants to come here, but will be happy to welcome as many as our economy is able to absorb. We are going to need immigrants to pay Social Security taxes as the boomer bulge collects benefits. (We also need someone to say no to the expanding AARP.)

Optimistically, the national downsizing will also teach us to stop wasting natural resources and respect the planet, while not using "climate change" as a weapon for political control.

Then there's the red-light, or worst-case, scenario:

Barack Obama really is a liberal, co-owned by moonbats, labor unions and the AARP, and the nation is doomed. By the end of his administration, the national debt will be greater than the Gross Domestic Product of the United States and China combined, with no one left from whom to borrow.

Taxes and inflation will rise together, the former making economic recovery impossible, the latter making Jimmy Carter the former president whom Obama most resembles. In the second Great Depression, millions of illegal immigrants will come from countries that are worse off than ours, overwhelming local government services.

The federal government will take over the health-care industry, which means that politicians will own us as we depend on them for critical care for our families. Instead of being "for the children," higher taxes will always be needed "in case you get sick" so many will fear resisting.

The government will also own our children through mandated government service, including the military draft, opposition to which is where I entered political activism 40 years ago.

I was young then, the world was green-lit, anything was possible. The draft was abolished. The Cold War ended. America prospered. Deficits decreased, life expectancy increased.

But then the red lights started flashing.

Now, let us see only the right things to do; and let us be truly wise.

The comments made and opinions expressed in her columns are those of Barbara Anderson
and do not necessarily reflect those of Citizens for Limited Taxation.

Barbara Anderson is executive director of Citizens for Limited Taxation. Her column appears weekly in the Salem News and other Eagle Tribune newspapers; bi-weekly in the Tinytown Gazette; and occasionally in the Lowell Sun, Providence (RI) Journal and other newspapers.